The complainant, Dieter Buse, objected to a Viewpoint segment by Robyn Urback, calling into question Canada’s desire for a seat on the UN security council. He thought it was a one-sided diatribe.

It presented a single point of view. It was clearly labelled as Opinion and was not obliged to present other perspectives. There was no violation of policy.

COMPLAINT

You objected to a Viewpoint segment on The National in which Robyn Urback, a columnist and producer of the cbcnews.ca Opinion section, presented her perspective on Canada’s desire for a seat on the United Nations Security Council. Ms. Urback was critical of the United Nations, and questioned Canada’s goal. You characterized her presentation as a “one-sided diatribe against the United Nations, calling it corrupt and incompetent.” You thought she offered no proof of her allegations, and noted four images were shown, but there was explanation as to why these particular visuals “proved any assertion she made.”

You thought there should have been mention of the U.N.’s accomplishments to balance out her position:

No balancing opinion was offered about what the UN has achieved, such as helping contain AIDS, identify and provide standards for World Heritage Sites, or Resolutions condemning aggression and transgressions of international law (eg Israel building wall on Palestinian territory or North Korea nuclear program), to cite only a few items. Why does the CBC allow such uninformed biased rants to pass as an opinion, instead of labelling it anti UN propaganda?

MANAGEMENT RESPONSE

The Executive Producer of The National at that time, Don Spandier, replied to your complaint.

He explained that Ms. Urback is an opinion columnist for CBC News, whose work appears on the website. The National also has a feature called Viewpoint which presents individuals’ opinions on a variety of subjects from a range of perspectives. He then provided you with an essay written by Jennifer McGuire, the head of news, which outlined the purpose and parameters of opinion features on CBC news platforms. To paraphrase some of it, she explained the goal of providing an Opinion feature was to give the audience a place to read and see provocative debate on a range of topics and from a range of perspectives. She explained most of the material would come from freelancers, and that reporters would not be allowed to contribute.

REVIEW

CBC News Journalistic Standards and Practices has policy on covering opinion:

Our programs and platforms allow for the expression of a particular perspective or point of view. This content adds public understanding and debate on the issues of the day.

When presenting content (programs, program segments, or digital content) where a single opinion or point of view is featured, we ensure that a diversity of perspective is provided across a network or platform and in an appropriate time frame.

Continue reading this on the CBC website, where it was first published.